The 2013 Grammy Awards probably won't be the sexiest show in history — unless you're really into stuff like "Fun.'s exposed ankles" or "LL Cool J monologues" — or the most dramatic, either. Shoot, even the Frank Ocean and Chris Brown beef tapered off before the first envelope was even opened.
Unlike last year, when Adele's coronation and the shocking death of Whitney Houston made for one of the most captivating shows in recent memory, there really are no provocative story lines or odds-on favorites heading into Sunday's telecast (the field of nominees is so evenly distributed that five artists tied for the most nods). There probably won't be any underdog upsets, meaning you can forget about a repeat of 2011's Arcade Fire/ Esperanza Spalding double bill, and given that the edgiest performer lined up for the show may very well be Elton John, the odds of a moment as polarizing as Nicki Minaj's holy terror of a performance are slim, at best.
Lacking a coercive hook, this Grammy telecast has had journalists scrambling to come up with juicy angles (or vaguely conspiratorial theories). But I'm here to tell you that none of that matters in the slightest. Because, without any clear frontrunners, dramatics or storybook tales just begging for a fitting conclusion, this is may be the most unpredictable Grammy Awards of all time.
Needless to say, I'm excited by that prospect. After all, I possess both a supreme ego and a dangerous addiction to wagering ... so of course I'm going to try to pick the winners of the 55th annual Grammys. After all, anyone could have predicted Adele would win everything at last year's show; the true test of a prognosticator's skill comes when logic goes right out the window, when he or she is forced to rely on their instincts. So based on nothing more than my own gut (and some old cough syrup I found in my desk) here are my predictions for the "Big Four" Grammy categories: Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist. Who knows, with a race this wide open, maybe I'll even get some of them right this time.
Album of the Year
» The Black Keys, El Camino
» Fun., Some Nights
» Mumford & Sons, Babel
» Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
» Jack White, Blunderbuss
My Pick: It might not be the most, uh, representative category (fun fact, Grammy voters: Women make albums too!) but it's certainly a tight one. All five nominees have a realistic shot — even Blunderbuss, which clearly had enough supporters to make it this far — and three of them were among the year's biggest-selling releases. A win here would serve as coronation for either the Keys or Mumford, and a validation of sorts for the newly solo White or the ascendant Fun. The only problem? They're all rock artists, which means they'll likely syphon votes from each other, and, in turn, give Album of the Year to Frank Ocean's Channel Orange.
Record of the Year
» The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy"
» Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger"
» Fun., feat. Janelle Monae, "We Are Young"
» Gotye, feat. Kimbra, "Somebody That I Used to Know"
» Frank Ocean, "Thinkin Bout You"
» Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
My Pick: The last four winners in this category were Adele, Lady Antebellum, Kings of Leon and Alison Krauss ... sense a pattern? Yes, it seems that Grammy voters tend to err on the side of the traditional when it comes to Record of the Year (which is given to the performer, producer and engineers responsible for the winning song), a trend I don't see changing on Sunday. So while it would be great to see Ocean or Fun. win here, I'm relying on recent history and going with my gut: the Black Keys' "Lonely Boy" takes this one home. Also, has anyone figured out why there are six nominees this year?
Song of the Year
» Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
» Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"
» Fun. feat. Janelle Monae, "We Are Young"
» Miguel, "Adorn"
» Ed Sheeran, "The A Team"
My Pick: Man, this is a weird category (I mean, seriously, Ed Sheeran may be outmatched here) and while the prospect of Miguel delivering an acceptance speech is certainly inspiring, I don't see any conceivable way "We Are Young" doesn't win here.
Best New Artist
» The Alabama Shakes
» Hunter Hayes
» The Lumineers
» Frank Ocean
My Pick: I'm beyond happy that the Alabama Shakes got a nom here, but they don't stand a chance of winning, so they're the first artist over the rope. I'm reasonably confident that Hunter Hayes and the Lumineers will cancel each other — and the country music vote — out, which leaves us with the two most deserving BNA nominees: Fun. and Frank O. It'll be close, but given the nationwide attention he garnered earlier this year for discussing a previous relationship with a man, his critical appeal and the belief that he may very well be the next great musician/producer, I'm thinking voters will crown Ocean as Best New Artist.